Monday, March 20, 2006

A very nice weekend

What a nice weekend I had. I drove down to Rotonda West, just south of Pt. Charlotte, to visit my best friend Stewart and his wife, An. It's about 175 miles south of where I live, just north of Orlando. After I arrived, we relaxed for a little while and talked about what was going on in our lives. Stewart and I have known each other for nearly 40 years now. They had decided to take me to Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island to watch the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico. What a nice choice that turned out to be. We loaded up the car with drinks and snacks and headed on down the pike. Stewart pointed out some interesting landmarks, like an old Florida hotel, the Gasparilla Inn, a stopping place for the rich and famous from a bygone era. The Florida governor, Jeb Bush and his brother, George W, like to spend time there. The whole island seems to be a bastion for bread as white as it can get. You probably can't buy a house for under a million. Here's An & Stewart.

We took our beach chairs and supplies up to the sandy beach and nestled in to watch the sun go down. It was very relaxing. I told them of a place in Pass-A-Grille, south of St. Pete, I used to go to. There was a nice little bar/restaurant called Hurricanes that served really good grouper sandwiches, not to mention drinks. I used to go over once in a while to go out on my sister, Maggie's and her husband, Bud's sailboat. We'd stop there later to have a few rum drinks, a bite to eat and to watch the sunset. Whenever anyone I knew was going even remotely nearby, I'd tell them to stop at Hurricanes if they had the chance. I told people this for years, even after I hadn't been there in a long time. Then one day, my sister said it wasn't the same. Hadn't been in years. She said, "It's a gay bar now, Dave." Oh. After that, I stopped telling people to go there.

As we watched the sunset, a cool breeze picked up. We decided to head back toward their home and stopped at a restaurant in Rotonda West called Daniel's. It's only been open for a few months, but the food was superb. One of the best renditions of escargot I've ever had. Excellent food. We also enjoyed calamari and entrees of London broil, sea scallops and crab cakes. Why Stew wanted London broil when An was preparing it for dinner the next day, well, I don't know. I highly recommend Daniel's if you are in that neighborhood. The next day, we decided to hang low. We watched 3 rented DVDs, Crash, Walk the Line and Being Julia. I can see why Crash won the Oscar for best picture. It depicted different ethnic and cultural backgrounds living in the harsh realities of urban prejudice, through the interaction of the diverse characters in the film. Walk the Line actually was pretty good. For a pseudo-biographical film, the actors were well rehearsed to play Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. The third movie, Being Julia, was pretty much a decent film, but I would generalize it as the type of movie a guy would not go to see with his buddies. His wife or girlfriend would make him go. It reminded me of the time my girlfriend made me watch Remains of the Day when Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven was playing in the theatre right next door. "Can I go watch that one while you watch this one? Please?"

"NO!" And that was that. I think the only movie that was worse and something a guy wouldn't enjoy was The Great Gatsby. Don't get me started on how that was the most boring movie ever made. And then, my girlfriend at the time bought me a white suit because that's what Robert Redford wore. Oh well, at least I liked the suit.

So, Saturday was a very relaxing, movie-watching day. Then An made dinner. She had been marinating a London broil and it was fabulous. Nice and tender. With it came string beans, sauteed mushrooms and a pesto pasta dish, along with scallion bread. I was living the life, let me tell you. Until I lost at Monopoly. I was doing fine, but I kept landing on Stew's houses and hotels and no one landed on mine. The role of the dice. I don't want to talk about it.

Sunday, we took a water taxi over to Palm Island, in Cape Haze. We walked down the beach for a while and walked back to eat at the island's only restaurant, Rum Bay, which is also the island's only business. Bradley was playing Pitt in the men's NCAA tournament on the bar's TV. We ordered Shark's Tooth drinks, made of light, dark and golden rums, with cranberry, orange and pineapple juices. Pretty tasty. Stewart pointed out, "Look! It's Brad Pitt!" on the TV and everyone laughed. Then the food came. The salad An got and the two burgers Stew and I ordered were really good and the burgers were cooked just the way we asked. Palm Island is very secluded. A car ferry and the water taxi are the only ways to access it. By the time we got back, we were pretty tired. We relaxed and later fixed leftovers. We turned on the TV to watch The Sopranos. I fell asleep about midway through and that was about it for me.

It's amazing how quickly my short jaunt went. When you're really having a very nice time and you're with best friends, it always does. I can't wait to do it again.

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